Local News

Man talks of train crash that killed his wife, son

Posted December 26, 2009 6:09 p.m. EST
Updated December 29, 2009 6:17 a.m. EST

— As members of the state Highway Patrol and DOT continue their investigation into a fatal train-car collision Tuesday, the victim's husband is talking publicly for the first time about losing his wife and child.

Investigators said Erin Brett Lindsay-Calkins, 26, and her 5-year-old son, Nicholas Lindsay, died after the mother drove under the train's crossing arms, at Southern Drive and Mount Willing Road in Efland. Her Toyota was on the tracks when the train hit.

“The state troopers came and told me what had happened, that her and Nicholas were deceased. I lost it,” Michael Lindsay-Calkins said Saturday while visiting his baby at UNC Hospitals.

Four-month-old Aven Brooke Lindsay-Calkins, was inside the Toyota with her mother but survived the collision. She was listed in good condition at the Chapel Hill hospital Saturday afternoon.

“It's going to be hard, but I'm going to try to give her the best life I can,” Michael Lindsay-Calkins said of caring for Aven.

The mother, who had been married for just over a year, was on her way to a dentist appointment when the crash happened. She had left two hours early and wasn't in a hurry, according to her husband. 

"I don't know how she was in that situation. I know that she pays attention when she drives and she had two babies in the car,” he added.

Erin Brett Lindsay-Calkins worked at Duke's Center for Aging until she left to go on maternity leave.  Nicholas went to school at Central Elementary in Hillsborough.

Troopers said all three occupants of the car were properly restrained.

A funeral will be held Tuesday morning for the mother and son. The service is scheduled for 11 a.m. at the United Church of Chapel Hill, at 1321 Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd.

A spokeswoman for Norfolk Southern said the company has fielded 11 calls in the past year from people reporting problems with the crossing. A malfunction was reported in one of the cases in which a defective breaker needed repair, said spokeswoman Robin Chapman.

The other cases dealt with a broken light or gate, typically caused by drivers trying to cross the intersection during or after the warning lights and gate were triggered, according to Chapman.

DOT spokesman Paul Worley said the state was not aware of any problems with the crossing. The last wreck at that crossing was in January 1980.

Worley said the Efland crossing is similar to the site of a Durham crash that happened Dec. 10. In that wreck, brothers Calvin Brandon, 9, and Hassan Bingham, 6, died when their mother's Ford Explorer was hit by a train.

Carol Steckbeck, who represents Operation Lifesaver, a non-profit organization dedicated to preventing deaths and injuries on railways, said North Carolina ranks among the top 15 states for train collisions because of the number of railroad tracks in the state.